Marissa Mayer has recently sent, or has asked her head of HR to send, a note to all her Yahoo! staff imploring them to stop working from home. She's getting panned in the media - even Richard Branson on his blog is saying she is 'backward' and her decision is perplexing.
The statement released to employees at Yahoo! on Friday by the head of Human Resources Jackie Reses read:
"We need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices. Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together."
With the advent of new technology (even technology that's been here for a while), working from home or working remotely is a much easier thing to do and to do well (Google Hangouts, IM, email).
It also allows people the space and time to get stuck into larger projects without having endless internal meetings and to manage their own time. You could reason that as a forward-looking technology company, Yahoo! should be at the forefront of it all.
Work shouldn't be a place, it's a mindset.
So is she backwards and out of touch?
Becoming the first female CEO of Yahoo! at the age of 37 would suggest not. She must be highly driven and she has a point. The best work comes from collaboration, sharing ideas and spending time together.
She also needs to put energy back into the company and drive it forward. People are any company's best asset, so maybe she wants them to be more together, to see them and to get her arms around everything they do. The stock price of Yahoo! has fallen 50% since 2005 and 80% since 2000 so she needs all hands on deck.
So is she right or wrong?
I think the current situation probably guided her decision and every situation is different. I think it's important to have face time with people and to lead a team by being there with them. But I also agree with Sir Richard Branson and a particular the line on his blog, “Work isn't just 9-5pm any more - we're a connected world, which is always-on.”
As long as there is a balance of team time, regular opportunities to collaborate and the production of great work, then we should allow people to work remotely - not always but self-managed.
Nick Rappolt on Google+